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Knowing Our Past = Great Health for Today and the Future💫

As my travels take me to the great state of Mississippi, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. You can't travel through this state without a history lesson, and understanding

the roots of record set the pace for the growth and prosperity for any area. But more importantly, this critical chronology shows us where we have been, and how far we have progressed as a nation and people.

Most everyone is familiar with cities like Gulfport and Biloxi, but I decided I wanted to start my journey visiting the not-so-well-known, quaint, inland and coastal towns, mixing with the locals. But there is no way you can go through this state in search of an adventure, or history lesson, and not stop in Vicksburg--place of the Civil War surrender. I encourage you to follow me through this beautiful journey and see how I connect history with health.

When I arrive in any new town, the first place I go to is the grocery store. This honestly tells me a lot about the area I am visiting. Most grocery chains do extensive demographic research, trying to deliver a collection of food{s}, that will be purchased and well received by the communities. Anyone that really knows me, understands my dramatics around food, and oh would have received a colorful display when I walked into Vicksburg's neighborhood Kroger😲

Before we go down the isles at Kroger, I want to let everyone know Mississippi was ranked the most unhealthy state in 2019, for having the lowest life expectancy of 74.8 years. It also had the highest percentage of children in poverty, and infants born to low birth weight as of 1.20.2020. Why is this important to know first, before our tour down the grocery store isles? Because what they are marketing and selling to the Mississippi people has EVERYTHING to do with this statistic. But food isn't the only road block for the Mississippians, as 33% of the people say they have no physical activity. This is a quandary to me, this serious under developed knowledge of physical fitness and its relationship to health with so many miles of beautiful beaches, shoreline and natural trails.

So why is Mississippi so unhealthy? For much of the same reasons Louisiana and Alabama are on that same list. But one big reason is 44.38% of Mississippi's budget comes from federal funds. That is 1/3 of the state's revenue comes from the federal government. This federal money helps pay for healthcare, social services, education, transportation, and other infrastructure. Federal funds represent about 45% of Mississippi's total budget. Alabama on the other hand, has diversified beyond low-skilled manufacturing and agriculture labor with high tech industry-- NASA and automobile manufacturing. Mississippi did add a Nissan manufacturing plant in Canton, but that doesn't help the Delta, which is ranked among the poorest area in the country. In Mississippi, the largest job growth was in lower paying warehousing sector, hospitality, and agriculture and poultry processing.

So why is this a bad thing? Because, since 1933, following the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt took office as President, some say, winning on the promise of establishing a social welfare program. Religious and private agencies in the southern states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, were exhausted with the constant request for help, and welcomed this bailout. The national income dropped by more than 50%, and even salaried wages were hit hard. So in all honesty, this is where the relationship started between the people who run the southern states and government--a co-dependency that lives on today.

The US government subsidized over $22 billion dollars in soy, wheat, corn, cotton, and rice in 2019. This is money paid out to farmers regardless of what they grow and sell. And these subsidized products, specifically soy, corn and wheat, go into the majority of processed food as fillers--not nutrition.

These food-like, nutritionally empty products, are creating an onset of health issues for all ages, but especially in poverty stricken areas without a healthy choice. Isle after isle, end cap after end cap, these are the products that are being pushed and sold "cheap", to those that have been taught, and are lead to "no other choice". In fact, they are the products that are being paid for by government assistance programs, "food stamps", with very little opportunity to buy fresh, quality produce or meat. Each time I go into the grocery store, the line to purchase "prepared fried foods" is always longer than any check out lane, and the carts of many are not filled with "real" food products.

The US of America's food supply continues to make me very sad and angry. We are not helping those that cannot help themselves. The US of America is responsible for the widespread health epidemic they have created with a seriously, third-world class food supply. We feed our people less quality than what we sell to other countries. Why? Because other countries, even China and Russia, demand more for their people. Profit over human health continues to be the theme, so there really shouldn't be a question as to why so many have gotten really sick, and sadly died from a new destructive virus. The health of the human host, whether we can see it or not, matters as to how well we will fight any viral or bacterial invader. What we eat and drink matters to how well we are able to fight off illness and disease, and it doesn't come from nutritionally void food and beverage products. There is a reason why the southern states are deemed "unhealthy" with an ever increasing population of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Why do I relate government with bad health and poverty? Because it is a fact, in the Delta of Mississippi, generations of families are fed a line of misinformation that these governmental programs are the best they can hope for. That government assistance is the savior instead of a wicked curse. Because when people are told year after year, decade after decade, and generation after generation, that this is the best they can hope for--they will eventually believe it, and stop trying to better their lives. We have to do better, which means better than the past. And this gross negligence belongs to no particular political party, as both Republican and Democrats have blood on their hands in exchange for political power and positioning. I will discuss more of this infected system as we move ahead to the small coastal and inland towns that I was fortunate to be a guest.

Now back to Vicksburg. I LOVE THIS TOWN! I love the history, the people, and how the feeling of pride resonates throughout the streets, historical buildings, homes and community. I thought I knew a lot about the Civil War, but basically why and where it started, and the outcome, was really all I remembered. Understanding each states' involvement and the people that fought and died for both the Confederate and Union armies is important. Understanding the hope of what so many wanted to accomplish from fighting in this war was and is important. If we look back at each state's participation, it tells you a lot about how these states are ran today, from both a governmental and civil social aspect. I had no idea that the South's desire to secede, and fight, had everything to do with being recognized as a legitimate, sovereign nation.

I visited the Civil War cemetery, and read the names of battalion leaders who had died fighting a very brutal battle, from all over the country. I read about the surrender that ended the four year blood shed, by Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. He did so they say to preserve the south--lessen the destruction from what was already done. I think preservation is a good thing, leaving behind a reminder of what we do and don't want, helping us gauge our progress for the future.

Beautiful memorials cover the grounds where so many fought and died in what is called the bloodiest conflict in history, and I asked myself, "for what"? The moral issue of slavery is what we were taught, but in reality, it was the economic and political control over slavery that was at the center of the conflict--the state's rights.

The Civil War ended in 1863, but slavery was not abolished until 1865 with the 13th Amendment. As far as I'm concerned, all mankind are created equal, and possess the God given right to freedom, and the pursuit of happiness--whatever that means to the individual. It appears that when we try to control and mandate those rights, we run into trouble. Many lead to conquer, and control, but very little of the destruction is actually about the betterment of man, but more about the control of man. The exact same principles apply today. We have to learn from our past so we don't keep repeating the same mistakes.

In my opinion, if we take the time to teach a man to fish, he will never go hungry. Give a man or women a hand up and not a hand out, and it teaches self sufficiency--survival. Governmental dependency does nothing but keep everyone under control and stunted in the past. Growth doesn't happen under these circumstances, and if we aren't growing, we are dying.

Now let's go to the beach....Bay St. Louis, Long Beach and Pass Christian, Mississippi

My first stop was Bay St. Louis, and not a better time then this beautiful sunset. I honestly thought I was in Florida with the soft, white sandy beaches. And talk about very nice. Avie got her first taste of ocean and loved every minute. As we moved further east to Pass Christian and Long Beach, we realized we have found a special area. All throughout this incredible coastline you will find a very strong, deep seated Catholic and faith base heritage. The graveyard featured below, Trinity Episcopal Live Oak Cemetery, is home to the grave of George Washington's Great Niece, Francis Parks Lewis-Butler, 1797 to 1875. These historical graveyards, seminaries and bohemoth churches are a common sight, along with beautiful ecletic shops and tasty seafood restaurants. We certainly have had our fill of "fresh" Gulf shrimp, and southern fare😋

It wasn't until we moved onto Long Beach, which has become one of my new favorite beaches, that I learned personal stories of the violent hurricane history and destruction to this region.

We all witnessed the devastation Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans in 2005, but many don't realize this Mississippi coast line was completely wiped out by more than a few 30 foot waves. There wasn't any shoddy levies to blame, just sheer force from mother nature.

I felt an odd privilege to hear the stories and see the photos of residents walking through the destruction of lives once lived. Many moved on to other cities or states, while many more decided to rebuild, living in FEMA trailers, some for years. It became very obvious to me how the media really doesn't give the "true/American" picture any more, maybe never really did, as I personally

got a glimpse of many communities unmentioned, forgotten and left behind.

Again, I don't think I knew how FEMA really worked(s). I didn't realize FEMA homes/trailers were property of the federal government, and returned after use. News reports began to appear in 2006 of health issues of those living in FEMA trailers. In 2008, a federal report identified toxic levels of formaldehyde in 42% of trailers examined, attributing problems to poor construction and substandard building materials. As of 2012, two class-action lawsuits were settled, between residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and one manufacturer who built mobile homes for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Again, FEMA trailers are the property of the US Government, and are expected to be returned after use.

Traveling to Moss Point, Mississippi, less than 45 minutes east, I saw an every growing display of poverty and abandoned homes and buildings. The locals I spoke to here said FEMA made loans to individuals to build new homes, after Katrina, and ended up foreclosing due to lack of payment. The homes all stood abandoned and empty. Yet five miles down the road in Pascagoula, Beach Boulevard, you view million dollar homes lined up with no one living in them, but a little different story.

What was apparent is the daily locals aren't the ones living in the beautiful, coastal beach houses. To be honest, many of the mansions along the coast aren't lived in at all except for a brief time of year. Sure, some are used for vacation rentals, but the majority are not. As I looked at multi-million dollar structures, sitting empty, I wasn't jealous or resentful, just sad that the human life perspective and experience has such a vast range of differences. Where do these people who own these homes live? Someplace where making a living is much more profitable. Home owners that I met were all retired, with careers in education, banking, and real estate. Sure there is tourism, but the working class supporting this part of the country aren't the ones living much above poverty. And then bring Covid into the mix, where so many businesses were not allowed to open for so long...sad, just sad.

I have been fortunate to meet lots of wonderful people on this journey, and their personal stories are what brings value to these pages. I have met German, Cuban, Hispanic and Italian immigrants. They all shared their wonderful, heartfelt, courageous stories of "building their American dream". They are all completely different yet so oddly the same. As I type these words as a health and wellness professional, I realize my journey started off being about taking simplified health to the masses--to the people, rather than trying to push my theories and programs over social media. What I am learning is health is about so much more than what we eat drink and do, and often involves circumstances out of our control. But, my mission is still to show others that they can change the outcome, of their lives and health, if we change the course of our direction by daily choices. No, it isn't easy, but with consistent repetition, it works, and is a powerful contributor to building the American Dream. My hope and prayers are that we all can learn, teach and support one another in living the healthy lives we all deserve. Be Well🌻

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